There are more Rodríguezes and Gonzálezes than Smiths in MLB

Detroit Tigers pitcher Francisco Rodriguez is one of a number of MLB players with the surname. John E. Sokolowski/USA Today Sports

The frequency of Hispanic surnames in the United States is surging -- for a variety of reasons.

Even though Smith is still at the top of the list as the most frequent surname overall in the United States, in Major League Baseball it's a different story. According to MLB's player lists, 16 active players in MLB claim the Smith surname, though more players have the Hispanic surnames of either González and Rodríguez in the big leagues.

In the most recent U.S. Census Bureau ranking of last names, six of the 15 most popular surnames in the United States were Hispanic. The surname statistics are compiled decade by decade, with the latest complete measurements taken between 2000 and 2010.

It's the final Hispanic name on the U.S. census list that claims the highest number of players in MLB. Twenty players are named González in MLB, not counting Marco Gonzales, who uses a slight variation on the most common spelling of the name.

Another one of the most common Hispanic last names in MLB, Rodríguez, is the surname for 18 MLB players, and the No. 2 most popular surname for Hispanics on the U.S. Census list.

García is the most popular Hispanic surname in the United States overall; in MLB, 16 players claim the name. That is the same total for another common MLB Hispanic name that didn't even make the census list: Ramírez. Other popular Hispanic surnames in the majors are Hernández (15), Cabrera (12), Martínez (9) and López(8).

What are the reasons that Hispanic surnames in the United States have risen?

It's not only an increase in the Hispanic population, but a lack of variety of surnames in minority populations, as was pointed out by the New York Times.

Joshua Comenetz, assistant chief of the Population Division's Population Geography staff and manager of the surnames project, explained the tendency to oregonlive.com.

"There is more surname clustering," Comenetz said. "Twenty-six surnames cover a quarter of the Hispanic population, and 16 percent of Hispanic people reported one of the top 10 Hispanic names.

Comenetz went on to explain: "The pattern is similar for Asians and blacks. Names are not distributed among racial and ethnic groups the same way the population is distributed," Comenetz said. "It takes fewer names to cover a large segment of the Hispanic, Asian or black populations, compared to the white population, which has higher surname diversity."

About 30 percent of today's players are Latino. In the 2015 census, the overall percentage of Hispanics in the U.S. was about 17 percent.

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